The Surprising ROI of Interactive Training & Simulation

Breakthrough technologies uncover new opportunities for saving costs or increasing revenue. To validate the euphoria, our responsibility is to collect and share measurable results. This post is a start in that direction.

“This looks expensive.”

We don’t know if we can afford it.”

Dreamstime Xs 25409238 300x212.jpg3D interactive simulation technology brings the promise of a brave new world, and along with it, understandably, the hesitancy to spend dollars on a new line item.

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get – Warren Buffett

3D Interactivity looks expensive – and possibly unnecessary at first – much like a car must have looked to folks used to walking from point A to B.
But in both situations, once the time and money saved per trip (or training) is amortized over the life of usage, it is not only affordable, but the best way to arrive at point B efficiently.

“If you think good Training is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad training”

So we asked a variety of Operation & Maintenance training teams,

What would you do if you didn’t train via interactive simulation technologies?

There were two main responses, and you’re likely familiar with one or both of them:

1st Response: We practice on actual equipment in live sessions.
Training with live equipment is much more expensive than using interactive technologies. Beyond the cost of having equipment on-site (and available for training), there are additional limitations:

1. The equipment is site-specific. You cannot train technicians at other facilities on that piece of equipment without bringing them to that specific site to train, unless the equipment in question is smaller than a breadbox, which is usually not the case.
2. It does not scale well. When you update this expensive piece of equipment in the field, you’ll have to update your training vehicle (or what have you) as well or it will be useless.
3. There’s a set start and end point. Technicians are not able to have training refreshers without returning to the site – and after scheduling time to do so, that is. And likely reserving time with whomever leads the training.

And that isn’t just us saying so – it’s the U.S. Navy:

The U.S. Navy conducted a ‘cost avoidance’ study comparing an eight-hour training session on actual equipment against the same training using 3D Interactive Simulation. They concluded that their  $1.28 million investment in PC-based interactive training SAVED THEM $4.24 million in avoided costs, with a final ROI of $2.96 Million – and that was for training on just one piece of equipment.

The use of Interactive 3D Simulation to augment training on actual equipment needs to be viewed from both an instructional and a business perspective. Answering this question requires consideration of many subjective factors, particularly when the indirect and intangible benefits may be impossible to quantify. However, when one considers the (direct) high costs and risks associated with live sessions, travel, scheduling, and hazardous environments, it makes sense to carefully examine opportunities to use PC Simulation.

7825070 300x200.jpg(Read the full study here, pg 41 Section 3.6 Economic Considerations – Cost Avoidance).

This cost avoidance framework proves the business case for investing in portable 3D Interactive Training solutions. Heartwood’s team can assist you in tailoring this framework to your unique needs, just reach out here.

2nd Response: We make PowerPoint style e-learning courses and/or shoot video showing the procedure.
Learning by Seeing is as effective as learning to drive by sitting in the passenger seat (so not really very effective). Learning by Doing is far more effective than learning by seeing, learning by hearing or any other form – and interactive gaming technologies hold the key. The inefficacy of manuals, videos, and ‘next page’ style courses are examined in this post – Pitfalls of eLearning.

And Guess What? Customers Report BIG Returns

If following a “typical” training model, Oshkosh (and in turn their customer the U.S. Army) would have to train three students at a time on an actual vehicle – and with each vehicle costing anywhere from $100K-$250K, that’s a pretty significant spend. But 3D Interactive Virtual Training allows them to train 25 students at a time (eight times more than before) – each one practicing the procedures virtually, in just ONE classroom. This offers an economy of scale that any CFO will enthusiastically embrace.

Steve Pollock, Product Support Training Manager at Oshkosh had this to say (full interview here) –

“We often need to train students on equipment that either isn’t readily available or cost prohibitive, so the virtual world provides a safe, financially attractive alternative.One of biggest benefits we’ve experienced is being able to use it in multiple areas for both logistical training and for sustainment needs. Annual refresher trainings are very costly when one has a large user base. Virtual stations can accommodate 20-30 students in class, letting them operate a truck virtually, experiencing the driver interface in a way that would’ve taken us infinitely longer if they had to do it one at a time.”

“Infinitely longer” certainly warrants a look, right?

Do you have questions on projecting your case specific ROI? Send us a note and we will be happy to assist you with crafting a business case.